Town’s new normal, a missing ingredient and Cornell’s Ipswich bow - talking points from Spurs loss
Ipswich Town lost 3-0 at Premier League Tottenham yesterday. ANDY WARREN looks back at some of the game’s big talking points.
Credit where credit’s due
A glance at the team-sheet (they don’t actually exist in physical form during these unprecedented times) highlighted the gap in class between these two sides.
Then the first 10 minutes of this game highlighted the difference between Premier League football and the game at League One level, as Spurs clinically punished two Ipswich mistakes as Ryan Sessegnon and Son Heung-min gave their side an early two-goal lead.
There was little Town could do about Spurs’ third, as Son again netted from a spectacular Juan Foyth pass which split the Ipswich defence and allowed the South Korean to dink the ball home to as good as secure the win.
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The game was well and truly up but, to Ipswich’s credit, their heads never dropped and they battled away throughout, passing the ball nicely at times to create occasional openings as they kept their hosts honest.
In reality, Ipswich never really looking like scoring, but the fact they were second best to a Spurs team packed with internationals (there are 190 caps between goalkeepers Hugo Lloris, Joe Hart and Paulo Gazzaniga alone), should come as no surprise.
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The result of this game was never going to tell the whole story for Town, who showed enough to continue the positive narrative emerging this summer.
This was a game which wouldn’t have even happened had it still been possible for Spurs to jet off on their usual Far East tour this summer, but it was still hard not to think of what might have been as the two sides battled away.
Thousands upon thousands of Ipswich fans would surely have descended on Tottenham’s new stadium in more simple times, for a sunny day out at one of the most spectacular arenas in the world. Their absence was greatly felt. There was something missing.
Spurs are old hat at this now, having completed their Premier League season behind closed doors, but for Ipswich this is still new territory.
The two teams emerged from separate tunnels on opposite sides of the pitch, dispensed with the usual pre-match handshakes and again avoided the pleasantries as far as possible at full-time.
During the game the players not involved were sat, spaced out, in the empty stand, while all those inside the ground not involved in the game were wearing masks throughout.
There were no ball boys, instead spare balls were set out on top of cones around the pitch, while the empty stands were covered by sponsorship logos and club crests.
The game’s the same but its soul’s missing. The safe return of packed stadiums can’t come soon enough.
The new normal
One of the products of playing in an empty stadium is the fact you can hear the shouts of the players and staff clearly throughout.
And one word surely came out of the mouth of Ipswich manager Paul Lambert more than any other - ‘pass’.
Whenever one of his players received the ball, their instruction from Lambert was to ‘pass’. That was true of his two goalkeepers, of his central defenders as they split wide to take the ball, of his central midfielders and of his forwards.
The most pleasing aspect of this pre-season so far is the desire to create a real playing identity for the Blues, following a season of chopping and changing.
Consistency is going to be key for Ipswich, both in terms of system and selection, with Lambert’s 4-3-3 in evidence again in this game as they work towards the competitive kick-off next month. This looks set to be, to use a popular expression of late, ‘the new normal’. The difference is this ‘new normal’ is a little more welcome than the one we’re currently living in.
It’s still a work in progress but that identity Is emerging. It’s about retaining possession, moving the ball quickly, attacking from wide areas with full-backs supporting wingers and playing off the central striker.
All of those things were in evidence during this game, just nowhere near as predominantly as they were at Colchester on Tuesday night. That was to be expected, of course, given the quality of opposition, but Town deserve credit for sticking to their guns.
Ipswich Town’s new goalkeeper, David Cornell, will have hoped for a better start to his career at the Blues.
The Welshman, signed on a free transfer at the beginning of the week after leaving Northampton, played the first half at Spurs and picked the ball out of the net three times, playing a direct role in the second.
Having already conceded to Ryan Sessegnon, the 29-year-old received the ball in an admittedly tight area from Luke Woolfenden and proceeded to search for Cole Skuse with a pass out of his six-yard box. Sadly it was intercepted by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, fell to Dele Alli and then played back for Son to convert.
To be fair, the ball back to him from Woolfenden wasn’t great and Skuse could have been more alive once it had left his goalkeeper’s boot.
In hindsight, putting his foot through the ball would have been the correct choice but, in Cornell’s defence, he was following instructions given to him by manager Lambert, who is keen for his side to play out from the back. The Town boss defended his new goalkeeper after the game, insisting he was pleased to see the stopper following instructions.
Cornell’s only trained with his team-mates for a week and will take time to adapt to what Lambert’s asking him to do, so maybe a bit of patience is required.
That mistake aside, Cornell looked calm and continued to try and pass the ball, clipping the ball to full-backs regularly and otherwise looking confident with his feet, while also making a good stop from Hojbjerg’s header and claiming a good cross inside his box.
At the other end of the field. Tomas Holy kept a clean sheet during his 45 minutes on the field, making a couple of decent saves in the process.
The battle for the No.1 spot has plenty of time left to run.
Putting a hand up
In no particular order, here are a few of the more impressive Ipswich Town players this weekend.
Kane Vincent-Young showed many of the calm traits instilled in him during his time as a Tottenham youngster, as he looked in control of his game and was comfortable on the all as Ipswich looked to play through the thirds. He didn’t have everything his own way and struggled to get forward as often as he would like, but he was a solid performer.
Teddy Bishop, Armando Dobra and Gwion Edwards all had dangerous runs with the ball at their feet, as did substitutes Freddie Sears and Kayden Jackson who stretched the Spurs defence following their introduction.
Holy made some smart stops, Toto Nsiala had some really good moments as well as a few uncomfortable ones on the ball, while Flynn Downes showed exactly why so many believe he can play considerably higher than his current level.
Then there was Corrie Ndaba, who showed just why he has been so highly thought of over the last couple of years. It’s been said many times in columns like these, largely following Under 23 games, but the Irishman has all the raw attributes he needs to succeed – he just needs to put them together.
He was particularly impressive with the ball at his feet in this once, stroking it around with confidence and showing no fear despite the standard of opposition.
The big tests keep on coming as West Ham visit this Tuesday (2pm).